The craziness at airports around the world continues apace, but the latest incident being reported comes with a bit of a twist. It took place at the Mexico City International Airport on Friday and it probably created quite a spectacle. An Aeromexico flight to Guatemala was awaiting takeoff when a male passenger opened one of the plane’s emergency exits and walked out onto the wing of the aircraft. This set off all of the alarms you would expect and the flight had to be canceled. Typically, you would think that the rest of the passengers would be upset at the individual because their travel plans had been disrupted, but the rest of the people on the flight appeared to cheer his actions and many signed a statement supporting his decision. He was turned over to the police anyway. (Associated Press)
At first it sounds like a typical case of bad behavior aboard airplanes.
The Mexico City International Airport acknowledged in a statement Friday that a man had opened an emergency exit and walked out on a wing of a plane that was parked and waiting for takeoff Thursday.
The airport said the man had been turned over to police.
But dozens of fellow passengers signed a written copy of a statement saying the airline made them wait for four hours without ventilation or water while the flight was delayed.
More than seventy passengers signed the statement of support and after reading further into the details you can probably understand why. That flight had been scheduled to take off at 8:45 am. But the pilot reported a “maintenance alert” and brought the plane back to the gate. Nearly four hours later the plane was still sitting there. There was no ventilation running in the passenger cabin and the flight stewards were not handing out any water. People were reporting breathing difficulties and the passengers were in a state of unrest.
That’s when the unnamed man apparently decided to take matters into his own hands. He opened the emergency exit and walked out onto the plane’s wing for a breath of fresh air, then turned around and reentered the cabin. The plane was not moving and at no time were the other passengers placed in danger. In fact, the ones closer to the exit were likely relieved to also have a bit of fresh air.
I’ve been stuck in that situation myself, though never for four hours. I’m not surprised that the passengers were ready to revolt. If that is standard policy for Aeromexico, it’s disgraceful and they need to review those policies. If you’re going to trap people for that long in a cramped cabin, you need to provide some ventilation and drinking water at a minimum.
More appropriately, as soon as it becomes obvious that the delay will last for an hour or more, the passengers should be allowed to return to the terminal so they can make use of the facilities there and wait in what should at least be a slightly more comfortable environment. Accidents and maintenance issues are bound to happen from time to time, so we probably can’t blame the airline for the original delay. But allowing it to drag out in that fashion for such a long time is inexcusable. Now we should monitor the situation and see if Aeromexico plans to reveal what the original maintenance issue was that led to this uproar. There have been too many of these things happening lately and the state of air travel and safety is in question. It’s a time when we could use a lot more transparency and less secrecy.